Catalonian separatists to reelect Puigdemont as leader

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Catalonian separatists to reelect Puigdemont as leader

The Spanish attorney general wants to prosecute 20 separatists, including Puigdemont, on charges of organizing an unconstitutional referendum on October 1 and then declaring Catalonia's independence.

The prospect of exiled Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont being sworn in remotely as the region's president rose today after pro-independence parties put him forward as their preferred candidate.

However, if Puigdemont is elected leader it is uncertain how he would govern from Brussels.

However, it is unclear how Mr Puigdemont would lead the regional government from Brussels as he could be arrested if he returns to Spain.

A spokesman with Puigdemont's Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) ticket said that the separatist politician secured the backing of the left-republican ERC party Tuesday evening in Brussels.

But this was short-lived as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on the semi-autonomous region, sacked its government, dissolved its parliament and called snap elections.

The new Catalan parliament will hold its first session on January 17, the first step in reinstating the local government after Madrid fired the old regional administration, led by Puigdemont, for illegally declaring independence. The Spanish leader has also described as "absurd" the idea that Puigdemont could lead Catalonia from overseas.

Pro-independence parties achieved a slim majority of seats but they failed to get over 50% of the popular vote, bringing no resolution to months of a increasingly bitter impasse. "The presidential candidate will evidently be Puigdemont", Junts pel Catalunya representative Jordi Xucla told Spanish national radio.

Opposition parties - not to mention the Spanish courts - are likely to contest the legality of the deal, which would become official next week when the new regional parliament convenes.

Dismissing the suggestion, the leader of the anti-independence Ciutadans (Citizens) party said "a person who is fleeing justice can't be the president".

Her party won the most votes in December but not enough to form a government. Spain has jailed other pro-separatist leaders involved in the independence push.

In order to guarantee a separatist majority in a parliamentary vote this month, Junqueras and the other jailed separatists are expected to ask for special permission from Spain's judiciary to travel to Barcelona for one day to cast their votes.

"The desire to be free from Madrid is rising, it is in the majority and it is lasting over time, despite the huge difficulties it faces", he wrote in an editorial published on the Politico news website.

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